U.S. and Japan, France and Ontario: Who is Blind to Nuclear Success?

If you’re here with me in Australia and aren’t really interested in nuclear energy, you won’t have heard of Vermont Yankee, a perfectly good power plant that is to be retired this year mainly due to political and environmentalist pressure.

“Big deal, that’s all the way over in the States.”

Sure. But it’s global warming, dig? As Rod Adams summarises:

Fuel supply constraints in New England were severe enough on cold days during Winter 2013-2014 to push gas prices to a peak of $125 per MMBTU.

Virtually every dual-fueled generator in the region switched to distillate fuel oil on extremely cold days because that premium liquid fuel only cost $22 per MMBTU.

There were days during the winter when 25% of New England’s electricity came from burning distillate; fully 4% of the kilowatt hours during the months of December, January, February and March came from oil, up from just 0.6% the prior year.

If Vermont Yankee had not been running, electricity generators on the New England grid would have needed to purchase an additional 100 million cubic feet of natural gas every day.

On the days when natural gas was too pricy, Vermont Yankee’s daily output would have been replaced by burning almost a million gallons of diesel fuel.

In either case, the generators that would replace Vermont Yankee’s output would daily produce an extra 325,000 kilograms of CO2.

I would love to see this grassroots effort to assume ownership of this plant and keep that carbon out of the air. Isn’t that the priority, in a world where the potential harm from climate change is approaching with increasing certainty, while conventional nuclear accidents are incredibly infrequent, reported on hysterically and yet result in little to no death and injury?

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Obligatory fossil fuel disaster photo. From yesterday. But it’s ok, right? It’s normal, happens all the time?

Japanese authorities are hoping to restart nuclear plants this year, beginning with units at Sendai, but efforts are all uphill against vocal opposition from environmental NGOs. Tokyo has focussed on fossil fuel and resumed nuclear capacity to meet future energy needs so opposing restart of nuclear will not somehow magically achieve coast-to-coast wind turbines and solar farms. All it will effectively achieve is greater carbon emissions from already entrenched, expanded fossil fuel imports that are crippling Japan’s terms of trade.

Environmentalists! What do you actually want? To save the world from the Caldicott-Gundersen-Jaczko-Kaku version of radiation Ragnarök? Or to save as much carbon from entering the atmosphere as possible from this moment forth?

Here is France:

france

And here is Ontario:

ontario

They are doing what we all need to be doing: generating reliable electricity for their societies, industries and businesses with minimised carbon emissions. Anyone who cannot see this primary truth is, frankly, part of the problem. And yet the ideological anti-nuclear pressure is exerted in both cases, and while reasonable build-out of solar panels and wind turbines will surely help, too much of the cure ends up being toxic – especially when the illness was hypochondriacal to begin with.

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